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Real, Bayern look for European boost
Simon Baskett | February 20, 2007 10:50 IST
Wounded giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are hoping a return to the European stage in their last 16 Champions League showdown at the Bernabeu on Tuesday will spark a revival in their ailing fortunes.
The two continental heavyweights have failed to live up to their billing this season with a series of poor performances in their respective domestic leagues and are in urgent need of a shot in the arm.
A misfiring Real are treading water in fourth place in La Liga after an insipid 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis on Saturday and have scored just once in their last four home games.
A faltering Bayern lie fourth in the Bundesliga after a 1-0 defeat to Alemannia Aachen, their second defeat in three games since the return of Ottmar Hitzfeld as coach.
"We have to change things," said Real's sporting director Predrag Mijatovic. "The Champions League is difficult, but we have to do all we can to produce a good performance that will lift the fans. We are suffering and we want things to improve."
European competition tends to bring the best out of two old foes who between them have won the continent's most prized trophy 13 times.
Bayern have the edge on the head-to-head record having won on nine of the 16 occasions on which the two teams have met in Europe, but Real have knocked the Germans out twice in the last five seasons.
Real coach Fabio Capello, who won the Champions League with AC Milan in 1994, will be without versatile defender Sergio Ramos, who limped off at the weekend with a bruised foot and is likely to be replaced by former reserve team defender Miguel Torres.
Left back Roberto Carlos returns after a month out with a calf injury, while David Beckham, who was sent off at the end of the Betis match, should start on Tuesday following his recent reinstatement to the Real squad.
Bayern's league season went from bad to worse on Saturday as they suffered their second defeat in three games since the return of Hitzfeld to replace Felix Magath.
Once again Bayern were devoid of ideas in attack and nervous in defence in the defeat at Aachen and Hitzfeld has been left to pin his hopes on a change of competition bringing a change in attitude.
"It will be a completely different type of game against Real," said Hitzfeld, who won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and again during his first spell with Bayern in 2001.
"We'll also see a completely different Bayern team and I'm convinced that we stand a good chance."
Midfielder Owen Hargreaves missed the Aachen game because of illness but he stands a chance of returning to the team on Tuesday.
Lukas Podolski came off the bench and the striker should win promotion to the starting line-up alongside Roy Makaay.
Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 38-Miguel Torres, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 21-Ivan Helguera, 3-Roberto Carlos or 12-Marcelo; 23-David Beckham, 8-Emerson, 16-Fernando Gago, 7-Raul; 14-Guti or 20-Gonzalo Higuain, 17-Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Bayern Munich: 1-Oliver Kahn; 2-Willy Sagnol, 3-Lucio, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 21-Philipp Lahm; 2-Hasan Salihamidzic, 23-Owen Hargreaves, 17-Mark van Bommel, 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger; 10-Roy Makaay, 11-Lukas Podolski:
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)
UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage